Issac, the son of Abraham, married ,
a woman by the name of Rebekah.
She gave birth to twin sons.
Their names were Esau and Jacob.
As they grew older, Esau became
his father's favorite while Jacob
became his mothers favorite. Esau
loved the outdoors and was
a skillful hunter, while Jacob was
a quiet boy who liked to stay home
and help his mother.
Esau and Jacob had trouble getting
along, because they were so different.
Esau came in from the fields one
day and saw his brother making
some soup. Esau was very hungry.
He asked Jacob for some soup.
Jacob told him he wouldn't give
him any soup unless Esau sold
his birthright to him. This birthright
belonged to the oldest son and meant
that when the father died he
inherited all his father's land. Esau
was so hungry right then that he didn't
care about his birthright. So he
agreed to give his birthright to Jacob
in exchange for the soup.
As the years went by their father,
Issac, became old and blind. He
knew he was nearing the time of
his death. He called to Esau to come
to him so he could receive his final
blessing. Before Issac would bless Esau he
wanted him to hunt a deer and
prepare him a meal.
Rebekah was listening to what Issac
was telling Esau. When Esau went into
the fields to hunt a deer, she prepared
some meat and told Jacob to serve it
to his father instead of Esau. In
that way Jacob would receive his
father's blessing. Jacob knew that
this was not right. But, nonetheless, he did
as his mother said. He took the meal
to his father. Issac, thinking that this
was his son Esau, gave Jacob
his final blessing.
When Esau returned with the meal,
he realized that he had been
deceived. He was deeply hurt that he had
been betrayed by Jacob in such a way.
Esau then hated Jacob and vowed that
he would one day kill him for
taking away first his birthright and then
his blessing. The things that Esau had said
were soon told to Rebekah. She
sent Jacob away to live with
her brother, Laban.
While Jacob was traveling to his
Uncle's house, he stopped to rest for
the night. That night he had a dream.
In this dream, there was a ladder set up
on earth. The top of the ladder reached
to heaven, and God's angels
were climbing up and down. At the
top of the ladder stood God. In this
dream He spoke to Jacob and said...
"I am the Lord, the God of Abraham
and Issac. The land on which you
lie I will give to you and your
descendants, and your descendants shall
spread like dust to the west and to
the east, to the north and to the south."
The next morning when Jacob awoke,
he took the stone that he had used to lie
his head on and set it up as a pillar.
He poured oil on it, to mark it as
a spot of blessed memories. He called
this place Bethel, which means
the house of God.
Jacob continued to travel to Laban's home.
He came to a field where he met
Laban's daughter Rachel. Rachel was
very beautiful. She greeted Jacob warmly
and brought him to see her father.
Jacob worked for Laban for a month.
During this time he grew to love
Rachel. When Laban asked Jacob what
his wages should be, Jacob asked for Rachel
in marriage. Laban agreed, but first Jacob had to
work for him for 7 years. At the end
of those 7 years he could marry.
When the 7 years were up, Laban
threw a marriage feast. But, instead
of Rachel, Laban substituted Leah,
his older daughter. Jacob didn't
know this at first because Leah
wore a veil and no one could see her face.
At the end of the ceremony Leah
was Jacob's wife. Laban had tricked
Jacob, just as Jacob had once
tricked his brother Esau.
Laban explained to Jacob that it was
custom that the older daughter
marry first. He promised Jacob that
if he would work for him for
another 7 years then he could
also have Rachel as his wife.
At the end of these 7 years, Rachel
also became Jacob's wife. Laban
treated Jacob badly and even refused
to pay him his wages as promised
on many occassions. Jacob could not
stand for this any longer. He gathered
his wives and children on camels and
set out for the land of Caanan. This
was the land where he was born.
Jacob sent messengers to Caanan
to tell his brother Esau that he was
on his way and that he was sorry he
had cheated him. When Jacob's messengers returned
to him, it was with bad news. Esau
was coming to meet Jacob and
was bringing 400 men to fight
Jacob and his people.
That night Jacob went off by himself
to think of the things he had done
in the past. While he was alone, a man
came and wrestled with him until
the break of day. Then Jacob learned
that the man he had wrestled with
was an angel of God. The angel said to Jacob.
"Because you have accepted the
challenge to fight and have not given up,
you have earned God's favor." Then
the angel changed Jacob's name
to Israel, a name meaning
"He who struggles with God"
or "The Reliable One."
Then the angel left. Jacob saw in
the distance Esau coming with his 400
men. Esau approached Jacob and bowed
himself to the ground 7 times. Instead
of fighting, Esau ran to Jacob and
embraced him and wept. He was so glad
to see his brother. Jacob was also
very happy to see his brother. He
had found favor in his brother's eyes.
They returned to Caanan with their
families. As God had told them,
Jacob's descendants spread over the
face of the earth.
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